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Occupational Therapy Hand Therapy Fellowship Program

Occupational Therapy Hand Therapy Fellowship Program

The Occupational Therapy Department at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital (JAHVH) has developed a Fellowship Program dedicated to advancing the knowledge and skills of occupational therapists interested in specializing in upper extremity rehabilitation.

The program will expose the fellow to targeted clinical environments with patient populations/conditions that align with many of the areas covered on the Certified Hand Therapy (CHT) examination. The majority of the fellow’s experience will be spent with the primary mentors in the occupational therapy outpatient setting. There will be opportunities for specialty clinical experiences, including topics such as UE edema/lymphedema management and UE amputation rehabilitation. Higher level clinical performance and reasoning skills will be addressed throughout the program with ongoing mentorship from expert mentors. Curriculum modules specific to hand therapy topics and occupational therapy service delivery will promote advanced practice through experiential activities, clinical caseload assignments and purposeful mentorship.

We believe in the development of occupational therapists into highly skilled practitioners through exposure to educational processes with a balance between didactic/academic and experiential/clinical environments.

To provide occupational therapists with the knowledge and abilities to progress their clinical and professional skills in a specialty practice area in order to become advanced practitioners by:

  1. Using evidence-based practice when evaluating and providing interventions
  2. Effectively evaluating the outcomes of services delivered
  3. Participating in scholarly activities/opportunities
  4. Engaging in collaborative inter-professional and cross sectoral partnerships
  5. Increasing awareness of the unique occupational needs of Veterans

Clinical training consists of managing a diverse caseload of patients with acute and chronic UE conditions in the occupational therapy outpatient setting and Hand/Orthopedic Walk-In Clinic. One-on-one mentoring sessions with CHTs, as well as, the didactic curriculum will enhance clinical practice skills and promote advance knowledge.  Fellows will have opportunities to participate in national hand therapy rounds, department-wide journal clubs, and staff/student in-service presentations.

The JAHVH Hand Therapy OT Fellowship Program will focus on the fellow’s development of knowledge, competency and advanced practice skills in the following core areas:

  • Advanced Knowledge
  • Reasoning and Performance Skill
  • Ethical Practice
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Scholarly and/or Professional Activities

Goals of the Program
To educate and train post professional OT graduates to:

  1. Meet the needs of Veterans by becoming advanced OT practitioners in the specialized area of hand/upper extremity therapy.
  2. Demonstrate the use of evidence-based outcome measures and advanced clinical reasoning skills by critically assessing and appraising the current literature to guide evaluation, plan of care development, and carry out treatment sessions that facilitate occupational participation.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the 2020 AOTA ethical principles and specialty specific ethical standards and their implication into practice.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to access and establish collaborative partnerships with stakeholders to maximize the occupational participation of clients.
  5. Participate in scholarly activities such as quality improvement project and case study development/presentations that promote lifelong learning.
  6. Exhibit the highest standards of professionalism.

Program Co-Coordinator/Director: Katherine Litman, MOT, OTR/L
Program Co-Coordinator and Primary Mentor: Ileana Rosario, OTR/L, CHT
Program Mentor: Barbara Taylor, OTR/L, CHT, CAPS

**This Program is currently in the fellow application process through the American Occupational Therapy Association.

** Health Professions Trainees (HPTs) are appointed as temporary employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, HPTs are subject to laws, policies, and guidelines posted for VA staff members.  There are infrequent times in which this guidance can change during a training year which may create new requirements or responsibilities for HPTs.  If employment requirements change during the course of a training year, HPTs will be notified of the change and impact as soon as possible and options provided. The VA Training Director for your profession will provide you with the information you need to understand the requirement and reasons for the requirement in timely manner.

To apply please email Katherine.Litman@va.gov the following documents by April 30th

  1. Completed Fellowship Program Application (see link below)
  2. Resume
  3. One-page essay explaining why a fellowship is important to you and why you chose the VA as a fellowship site
  4. Two letters of reference  (these should be included in your e-mail application submission and should not be sent separately)
  5. Copy of Valid OT license and NBCOT certificate OR proof of expected graduation date prior to the start of the fellowship and your scheduled NBCOT test date. (See FAQ’s if you have questions about your graduation date)
  6. Proof of completion of an in-person physical agent modalities course/certification

Fellows are employed full-time by the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital for the year-long program. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen that are a graduate of an ACOTE accredited occupational therapy (OT) program, possess a current OT license (from any state) prior to the program start date, and have completed an in-person physical agent modalities course, including at least four (4) hours of didactic training on electrical stimulation and at least four (4) hours of didactic training on ultrasonic stimulation devices (Online courses are NOT accepted).

Applicants should be AOTA members and be committed to pursuing Board or Specialty Certification in the specialized area of practice.

The fellowship will be a paid position and the fellow will be eligible for health benefits, earn annual leave and sick leave, and have paid federal holidays. There are no tuition fees associated with this fellowship.

Interviews are typically conducted during the month of May.

The Fellowship Program is scheduled to start in late August and end one year later.

 

  1. Why should I do a fellowship rather than just find a job I’m interested in?

A fellowship will provide post-professional training in a specialized area of practice. Participation in a fellowship will give the fellow specific experience and allow him/her to gain confidence delivering specialized OT services. It will combine didactics, mentorship, and clinical practice in the fellowship area in order to progress the fellow towards becoming an advanced-level clinician. This can increase professional marketability in the future.  

  1. What experience is needed to apply for a fellowship?

No experience is needed. Experience will be gained through participation in the fellowship program. Applicants should have strong interest in the fellowship program and applying for board or specialty certification after completion of program completion.

  1. Do I have to be a new grad to apply for a fellowship?

No. Any licensed occupational therapist can apply for a fellowship experience.  While some applicants are newly licensed OTs, others have some basic experience, or are wanting to change practice areas. Most fellows typically have 0-5 years of experience.

  1. What if my license is in another state?  

The specific state you are licensed in doesn’t matter as long as your meet criteria to apply.

  1. What happens after the year-long fellowship?

The fellow will be considered an experienced clinician in that specialty practice area. This will help when applying for jobs in a specialized practice area that requires experience. The fellow will also be eligible to apply for AOTA Board Certification after 2 years of practice rather than the 3 years that is required for non-fellowship participants. 

  1. Can I apply if I am not yet licensed or have not graduated OT school?

If you are not already licensed, you will need to have a license before you are able to begin the fellowship experience. You do not need to have a license to apply for the fellowship experience. However, acceptance will be contingent upon obtaining a license prior to the fellowship start date.

  1. Will I get a salary/benefits during the fellowship experience?

Yes, the fellow will receive a stipend and health benefits, as well as, accrue paid time off and have paid federal holidays.

  1. Will the didactic work required for the fellowship be completed while at work or in the evenings/weekends after the work day?

There is time built into the fellows weekly schedule to complete didactic work. However, on occasion, there may be work that must be completed outside of regular working hours.

  1. Is housing provided?

No. The fellow will be responsible for finding your own housing. We will gladly provide  recommendations/information about the surrounding areas, if needed.

10. What population will the fellow be working with?

The fellow will be working with veterans with a diverse range UE condition/diagnosis. They will provide care in the outpatient setting and in the Hand/Orthopedic Walk-In Clinic.  Ages of the population span across adulthood.

11. What  diagnoses will I see?

The fellow will see clients with a variety of upper-limb conditions including but, not limited to orthopedic, post-surgical, nerve injuries, cumulative-trauma injuries, amputations, lymphedema, and oncology.

12. What will I be doing with the clients?

The fellow will be completing occupational therapy evaluations daily and developing individual treatment plans to improve upper-limb function.  Common treatments may include, modalities, therapeutic activities/exercise, orthotic fabrication, ADL retraining, adaptive equipment ordering and training.  

 

See the Application and Program Brochure for more.

Program Brochure and Application

Download the informational brochure here
Download application here Occupational Therapy Fellowship Application